Day 1 – Let The Madness Commence!

First day of term. I went to bed with end of holiday butterflies in my tummy and woke every 30 minutes in a don’t miss the alarm panic. Why? Today The Children came back…

5.50am Alarm goes off. Arm flies out of bed. Hit snooze.

5.55am Alarm goes off. Urgh. No. Snooze.

6am Alarm goes off. You’re not going away are you? Get up.

Some blur between 6am and 7.15am inhale coffee. Lay out newly labelled uniform for the girls and attempt conversation over “breakfast” (a yogurt and more coffee). Conversation fail. I can’t discuss the finer points of who chewing loudest. I just can’t. Plait girls hair. Realise I haven’t actually brushed mine yet. Shit shit shit.

7.30am run out the door in new shoes and posh work clothes. Run isn’t quite the right word. Walking a bit like Tina Turner as I’ve been in flip flops for 6 weeks. Can’t actually remember how to walk in heels. Arse.

To work!

Emails emails… Hall duty & greeting all the kids (are they getting taller or am I shrinking?). Collect kids planners and register. Feeling organised. We can do this!

Tutor time. Feeling a bit sad that I’m missing seeing my girls going into school. Cheered up massively by happy & genuine greetings from my form. Seriously, proper “Morning Miss!” type stuff from year 10s! These teenagers don’t conform to the stereotype. I love them.

The next 5 hours is a blur of welcome back lessons in which we hit the ground running rather than ease them in. I’m back in The Zone. There was a sandwich in there somewhere.

3.30pm It’s all gone quiet. Suddenly realise that my feet REALLY hurt (bad new shoes) & my throat is sore. Standard stuff.

Update the links on my scheme of work to the new folders, answer a few more emails & talk to some colleagues who have inherited my classes. Print out the resources for tomorrow’s lessons… Last minute parent email pops up. Better to leave without it hanging.

Time check. 5.30pm… Kids home on 30 minutes… Drive home 30 minutes… Shit shit…

7pm order pizza.

7.30pm Answer homework question emails. Bless them. If they’re keen, I’m not going to ignore them. Update blog with a post reflecting on day. Actually, after all that stressing over exam results and planning in August, today was a remarkably good day. Mainly because the children came back.

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The only way I shall acknowledge Christmas before December

So, I have three topics to cover with three different year groups.

Year 9s – intro to python programming
Year 12s – finite state machines
Year 13s – Mealy & Moore machines

And a set of raspberry pis. Enter overexcited teacher.

So as a gentle introduction, welcome to the Christmas Computing Display board idea…

Print out a reindeer picture on card and get out a raspberry pi and the GCSE electronics kit (from Maplins.  Very cool).
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Connect a 200 resistor to the shorter wire on a red LED.
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Then make two wires and twist them onto the end of each side of the LED . I could use jumper wires, bit have you seen how much they cost??!

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To save the pins on the raspberry pis, I’m using a GPIO lead which turns the male pins into female ones wjivh ypu can push the wires into.

These go into pin 25 for the resistor side, and pin 7 for the other.
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Connect up the pi and set up a python program to set the led to high then low each second (the code comrs from http://www.ocr.org.uk).

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Next, open a terminal session and type in

sudo python rudolph.py

Get stupidly overexcited when it actually works!
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Push LED through a small hole in the card for Rudolph’s nose and tape the wire to the back of the card.

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So, the plan is to duplicate the process with a number of year 9s to create a flashing wall display for the end of term.

Use wall display with year 12s to demonstrate FSMs and give year 13s free range to create their own versions which allow input to create mealy machines.

Today was a good day 🙂

Free stuff! For free.

It’s going to be one of those days. Earlier I uploaded my newly created Image technology for computing CSI style resources, and now after much faffing about (and general non payment of commission) by Amazon, I’ve uploaded a link to the PDF version of the book here.

If I’m not going to get paid for it, at least it might help someone get into coding. And that’s worth a free (and legitimate) download.

All I ask is that you acknowledge it’s mine and chuck a link to the page, or at the very least keep my name on the book. It is my hard work and a good few months of my life there!

Enjoy 🙂

download from my book page

CSI in the classroom – Teaching Imaging Technology

You know you’ve watched a bit too much CSI when you start planing lessons around it. The start of next half term for my GCSE & AS Computing people will commence with a spreadsheet. Yep, a spreadsheet.

The plan is to introduce some practice of the binary & hexadecmial that they looked at last hald term and combine this with an understanding of bitmap and vector images and the theory behind them. (It’s the zoom in, enhance that image ongoing joke that prompted the whole project) There is a real possibility of this topic being very dry and losing the interest that was sparked in the first half term with programming. When it’s dry, it’s just as boring to teach as it is to be taught. Enter CSI School…

The spreadsheet guides them through a set of tasks where they answer questions and undertake practical activities from picking out hexadecimal colours from a bitmap to find a secret message, to writing a program to calculate maximum file size, to using a drawing list to create a vector.

I’m planning on this taking a good 6 lessons for them to go through all the tasks and create a set of written notes (A Level) to highlight the key terminology.

CSI School Dashboard

It looks like fun. So, here’s a copy of the resources basically because I’m lovely.

CSI School

Note: You’ll also need the BMP file and password for the ‘nope’ sheet. Please drop me a message and I’ll email them to you (wordpress don’t allow bitmap uploads)

Computer Science…. Just for fun.

I set my year 1 GCSE computing classes a little riddle to keep them going from now until after half term. It doesn’t count towards their course, it’s just a brain teaser to keep them interested. I’m slowly weaning them onto mathematical jokes.

We are just delving into the realms of Denery, binary, hexadecimal and Octal….

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Some day when I’m awfully low, and the world is cold…

I was checking my emails today looking for a reminder for something and saw a random email had come through asking me about the book I wrote for GCSE Computing before last academic year. I duly replied and sent a link to the ebook on Amazon and offered a paper copy if needed. Then I realised I’d got a review on the book.

“Cool!”, I think. This means someone’s actually read it. It was better than that.

It was a review from one of my old students….

Amazon Review

It’s been a tough old week and this was just the loveliest thing to find. I hope they’re doing well this year.

What happens When I’m Staring Intently At My Laptop And Apparently Ignoring You.

Dear Husband,

I know you like to do that thing where we both speak words and they form this thing called a conversation. It’s just that I’m coding, and unlike you who appears to be able to Skype with clients, drink coffee and create almighty web apps that make people go ‘oooo!’. I am more typical of the programmer kin and need to focus to the point where bombs could explode (or parents can be steam cleaning the room) around me and all I see is a search for a semi-colon.

In lieu of the conversations that I think you were trying to have this morning, let me show you what I’ve been up to.

This is my student website. In I showed the initial design for the site, which admittedly took me a bit longer wrangling with divs than I had expected.

Today, we have a fully functioning sign up & login (yes, I know I need to sort out the alignment, but functionality before beauty).

website login

After that, I started to build the competition pages. Remember that idea you had about setting them a mystery quiz? Well, I’ve built it along with the first few challenges.
First, each page recognises whether you’re a guest, a student or an admin.

Guests – well, they get a message telling them that they only have access to the resources bit.

Students – The page looks at the database and works out which of the challenges they have successfully completed, showing them the next in the series. It also works out how many incorrect answers they have submitted.

challenge

Admin – This is planned to be a dashboard for administration of the competition and to get automatic results (the winner will be decided based on the speed that they go from the first to last challenge and how many incorrect answers they submit. This makes it fairer for those joining in late as I record the datestamp for each answer that is submitted.). But, for now, it allows me to enter new challenges into the competition and view the challenges alongside the answers. (the answers here are blocked out…. you never know who’s reading!)

admin

Next? Well I still need to build a homework dashboard & the interface for the kids, and then a results & feedback dashboard for the kids to look at their progress. Some content on the resources might be quite nice too!

Not just yet though. Let’s have a conversation first 🙂